cover image Cat and Mouse

Cat and Mouse

Tomek Bogacki, Tomasz Bogacki. Farrar Straus Giroux, $14 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-31225-1

This unassuming picture book speaks volumes about the nature of friendship. Softly brushed, suggestively textured illustrations depict a ""curious little mouse"" and a ""curious little cat"" who become fast friends. Neither one pays attention when their mothers are teaching them about the world, and so, when they meet, they do not know they should be enemies. After their initial surprise (""I have never seen an animal so different from me""), they see if they frighten each other, and then they throw themselves into the serious business of playing. Their enthusiastic friendship inspires their siblings to overcome their trepidations (""How could you be friends with a cat?"" ""How could you have fun with a mouse?"") and embrace the unexpected camaraderie. Bogacki's warmhearted text is eloquent in its brevity. Humor lingers just beneath the surface of the narrative, stopping it from slipping into sentimentality. Likewise, the frolicsome kittens and mice are saved from greeting-card cuteness by their tentative expressions, oversized heads and clumsy, stiff-legged play. The artwork is both wistful and solid. While invoking no particular sense of time or place, Bogacki's gentle, dreamy landscape of smudged grays, greens, and browns comes to seem recognizable and real. A simple, appealing book. Ages 3-5. (Aug.)